By Anthony Onifade

31st Jul, 2023 | 10:10am

Ezri Konsa may now have forced key Unai Emery decision at Aston Villa after what he did v Brentford

Aston Villa ended their pre-season US tour with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Brentford in the Premier League summer series and Ezri Konsa may well have forced a key Unai Emery decision ahead of the new campaign.

The entertaining clash in sweltering conditions at FedExField proved another step in the club’s pre-season preparations with the 2023/24 top-flight campaign less than two weeks away when they kick off against Newcastle on 12 August.

Having found themselves two goals down after Bryan Mbeumo’s early penalty and Josh Dasilva’s long-range strike, Emery’s side showed spirit aplenty to fight back and lead 3-2 at the break courtesy of three goals in 10 minutes.

With Emery strengthening his Aston Villa squad this summer with proven elite quality following the signings of Youri Tielemans, Pau Torres and Moussa Diaby, the Premier League summer series will have provided the Spaniard with much-needed knowledge of what some of his players can achieve in high-intensity tournament-style matches, ahead of their new Europa Conference League territory this coming season.

Sunday’s game was the last chance for some of Emery’s stars to impress, with the likes of Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Moussa Diaby and Matty Cash stealing the show, but one man certainly grabbed all the acclaim after what he did, and he may well have forced Emery’s hand ahead of a key selection decision with the Newcastle game around the corner.

Konsa is still yet to reach his peak in an Aston Villa shirt and has been massively overlooked by England manager Gareth Southgate in the past, especially in the latest England squad despite the Villan’s tremendous form to close out the 2022/23 season.

While Tyrone Mings has rightfully earned his shot once again, Konsa’s performances at Villa Park have somewhat undeservedly gone under the radar and there’s certainly been a number of his sensational showings under Emery’s stewardship.

Arguably one of his most impressive came against his old club Brentford in April [22 April], winning 100% of his aerial duels, winning 3 out of his four total duels, recording two clearances and successfully completing 47 of his 53 passes at a rate of 89% [SofaScore].

A few months on, and Konsa followed that impressive performance against his former side with a stunning pre-season goal on Saturday which will have made the hairs on Unai Emery’s back stand up.

Konsa bagged a superb solo goal which took him from just outside his own area racing clear of three Brentford challenges before entering the opponent’s penalty area and finding the top corner with an absolute pearler [Sky Sports].

Emery is a massive trailblazer of ball progression from his defenders, hence the signing of Torres to go along with his well-stocked and quality defensive options, but Konsa’s goal against Thomas Frank’s side on Sunday (30 July) may well have pushed Emery to include him from the off when they kick off against the Magpies.

Whoever the former Villarreal boss turns to, Aston Villa will certainly be in very capable hands at the heart of the defence, but Mings, Konsa and Diego Carlos must all prepare for the most testing pre-season of their careers, especially with Emery taking a huge liking to Torres following their successful three years together at Villarreal, but after what happened, it may not be the Spaniard lining up alongside Mings.

Konsa’s rock-solid partnership with the England international has been the foundation at which Aston Villa is undergoing this stunning upward trajectory, recording an impressive 11 eleven clean sheets along the way.

In fact, Konsa’s seasonal stats should be coming under the microscope in Southgate’s and Emery’s behind-the-scenes defensive analysis, with the former Brentford man only being dribbled past 0.2 times per game, recording 1.1 tackles per game, 3.0 clearances, winning 72% of his total duels, 60% of his aerial duels and a whopping 80% of his ground duels [SofaScore].

With Villa taking on pastures new next season, Emery may well be inclined to improve his numbers in defence in the transfer market, but the Spaniard can rest assured that both Konsa and Mings can lead the team forward again into a new and more lofty era.

Aston Villa fans won’t be worrying one bit and they will rest assured with the knowledge that they now have four exceptional and quality centre-backs at their disposal with the club now heading in an impressive and incredibly competitive new era with European football now on the horizon at Villa Park.

Torres’ signing was certainly a statement addition, but the Villans already hold a centre-back well capable of producing statements upon statements and consistent performances at the heart of the defence.

Why should Emery fix what’s not broken? Konsa remains the answer, especially after his latest exploits.